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The Camphill Village Trust

Client : A & J Stubbs

Project : Martin House - Residential Property - charity´s flagship building for sustainable design and materials

THE latest project in the career of plastering boss Dave Tabner has taken him back nearly 50 years – to his very first job.In 1961, Dave was as a 16-year-old apprentice helping to plaster a joiner’s shop in Botton, on the North York Moors, on behalf of The Camphill Village Trust.
More than 47 years later, and after many other plastering jobs at Botton, Dave has returned once more to Danby Dale to work on Camphill’s latest development – Martin House, a £900,000 residential property that will become the charity’s flagship for sustainable design and materials.

Dave’s company, Tabner Plasterers Limited, of Middlesbrough, is close to completing work for main building contractor A&J Stubbs, in a contract worth £60,000 so far to the plastering company.

Botton is the largest of 11 village communities supporting adults with learning disabilities run by Camphill. It extends over 600 acres and provides a home and employment to more than 300 people – of whom more than half are adults with special needs.The community is self-supporting - no one receives a wage, but everyone has a job and makes a contribution that benefits the community as a whole.
Martin House, a 12-bedroom property built around a 290-year-old farmhouse, will be home to an extended family, including five adults with dependent special needs.It has been constructed using locally sourced timber for cladding, reclaimed slate from demolished buildings in Middlesbrough and insulated with wool harvested locally. It will be heated by a waste-wood pellet-burning system and solar panels.

Over the years, Mr Tabner has worked on four of the five farms that make up the Camphill community, as well as the village hall, store, gift shop and several work buildings.
He says: “It’s amazing to think I worked at Botton when I was 16 and now here I am, approaching retirement, back here again for the umpteenth time. On many modern-day building projects, the speed and cost of the work is all important, but The Camphill Village Trust is more concerned about quality and controlling its green footprint.” The only plaster his tradesmen can use on Martin House is made from naturally occurring clay and lime, mixed with sand sourced locally. It is a technique Dave has considerable experience of, having worked on a major restoration of Newcastle’s historic Moot Hall in the mid-1980s. “Helping to preserve the past for the future is now a significant part of our operations,” says Dave, whose company recently completed work on a 16th Century farmhouse in Richmond, North Yorkshire, using a specialised render that allows the building to “breathe”.Just as Dave did on the Moot Hall project, George Miglentsis, Tabner’s senior plasterer at Botton, has had to turn his back on modern drywall plastering techniques as he and apprentice Danny Moore restore the farmhouse to its original state when it was built in 1720, instead using the lath-and-plaster technique that was widespread in Victorian times.George was one of three of Tabner’s most experienced plasterers sent for training before the contract started, at Womersley’s, a company in West Yorkshire that specialises in techniques for historic building refurbishment.George says: “A lot of the features on Martin House are provided by natural timber and the plasterwork is important to show off those features. It is a painstaking process, requiring three coats and traditional lime mortars need time to dry, but the finished walls and ceilings will be strong, natural-looking and long-lasting.”

Steve McGivern, Camphill’s maintenance manager for and Clerk of Works on the Martin House project, says: “Martin House raises the bar in terms of sustainable development and, in terms of using materials that are environmentally-friendly and from sustainable local sources, is something of a flagship project for The Camphill Village Trust and very likely to be the model for future developments. “We were pleased that A&J Stubbs chose to use Dave Tabner because of his company’s past contributions at Botton and, specifically for Martin House, his willingness to invest in training for his plasterers in the traditional methods and materials we desired. George Miglentsis is a tradesman who we know and trust on both a professional and personal level, but it was important that he received recognised training in the traditional skills specifically needed for such an important project.”